Other things mean a lot

Published May 5, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Milwida M. Guevara
Milwida M. Guevara

I wish I were in our town when the lockdown was declared. At t the very least, I could walk around our small yard. Contrast this to being confined in a small condo unit where we are not even allowed to walk in the garden.

I never realized how much I miss the things that I took for granted. I avoided being exposed to the sun for fear that my sunspots would darken and multiply. I have fewer sunspots now but my bones have become more brittle with vitamin D insufficiency. This is certainly not a worthy trade-off. There is no substitute for sunlight–-aside from the warmth and energy; it stimulates your feeling of being alive.

I find solace in solitude. It is a time for reflection, being happy with yourself, and finding peace in silence. But, it has its limits. One can have only so much of watching TV, reading books, and research. Doing these things everyday can get into your nerves.

One advice I have followed is keeping routines to get by every day. But we can only arrange and rearrange clothes, books and furniture a number of times before we start missing the clutter and the mess of our once- upon- a time- busy days.

I miss the days when we met friends over a cup of tea to share the latest news and gossip. The new normal is to share our thoughts by keeping a journal, emailing peers, and sending them messages. But these forms of communications are certainly not the same. The warmth, the empathy, the looks of comfort are not there. These are also not available to people from the countryside with no access to internet and good phones.

We have been so transfixed in preventing the spread of the virus through isolation and quarantine. But these measures have concomitant effects –which are probably as viral and inimical. Loneliness and anxiety from physical isolation can develop and spread, and there is no known cure. What could be worse is witnessing people suffering and dying from the virus. The resulting depression must have triggered an ER doctor in the US to commit suicide.

While it is crucial to ensure that people are physically healthy, their mental health is as important. Emotional support has a strong power to comfort and heal. We read about music being used as therapy in US hospitals. Milestones in COVID care are celebrated with music. The Beatles song “Here comes the sun” is played when a patient is taken off the ventilator. The soundtrack of the movie “Rocky” celebrates a patient’s recovery. Songs of Judy Garland like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” wafts through hospital corridors. In a New York hospital, patients find solace from the music of Brahm and Beethoven played by renowned cellists. And there are more unorthodox ways! Nails of patients are painted red. Doctors with the most number of patients who have recovered are crowned with tiaras and given the title of “Covid Crusher.” The recovery of spirit can trigger the body to heal.

True, the importance of PPEs, quarantine, and hygiene is primordial. But we have to enable people to feel calm and hopeful, and recover from post-traumatic stress. The virus has created fear and anxiety that have increased our vulnerability. As an example of a fitting response, the Canadian government has created an emergency fund for mental and emotional health support of its residents. Isn’t it about time that our government both national and local, as well as CSOs (civil society organizations) think of how they can help relieve stress and restore calm? Man is not only body but he has a mind and spirit.

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